The New York Mets inked infielder Eduardo Escobar to a short-term deal this past offseason, giving him $20 million over two years. Escobar was coming off a solid 2021 season where he slashed .253/.314/.472 with 28 home runs, 90 RBI, 77 runs scored, and one stolen base as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers. However, he had a slow start to this 2022 season and slipped down fantasy baseball rankings. Managers may have dropped him earlier this year in favor of an MLB top prospect or another fantasy baseball sleeper. Still, the Mets' infielder has seen a resurgence lately and his rest-of-season MLB projections might be trending back up. If Escobar is available in your league, should you be running to make him a priority pick-up off the fantasy baseball waiver wire? Is he a trade target or a prime candidate to trade away? How about a buy-low option for fantasy baseball lineups? Let’s examine Escobar in the latest Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight.



Eduardo Escobar Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight



As mentioned above, Escobar began this season on a low note. He was hitting just .229 with a 24.6-percent strikeout rate and just three home runs through his first 47 games of the year spanning April and May. At this point, those in shallower fantasy baseball leagues likely relegated him to the waiver wire. June wasn’t much better, as he posted an anemic 2.3-percent walk rate, a 27.6-percent strikeout rate, and hit just .207. The question now is, “Is Escobar starting to turn it around?” He’s homered in three of his last five games and he’s hit seven home runs with 25 RBI over his last 30 games. Per ESPN Fantasy Baseball’s Player Rater, Escobar is the 12th ranked second baseman over the last week. 

Let’s cut right to the chase. If your league values on-base percentage over batting average, you want nothing to do with Escobar. Even though he’s hit seven home runs over his last 30 games, he’s posted a measly 1.6-percent walk rate and a .238 OBP.  During this stretch, Escobar has the ninth-lowest OBP and while one would expect his walk rate to rebound, many things point to it further diminishing as the year goes on. At first glance, his 7.7-percent walk rate in 2022 is right on par with past years, but it’s been a steady decline as the season has gone on. Check out his walk rate from month to month this year.


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Courtesy of FanGraphs

Escobar has walked just one time in his last 14 games, and just twice in his last 35 games! Compared to years past, you can see that his contact rate is down, and has trended that way for years. Meanwhile, he’s swinging more out of the zone and whiffing more – neither of which is conducive to maintaining or improving a walk rate.

If we look at a rolling average over just the 2022 season, the contrast is stark and the overall trend lines clearly explain the diminished walk rate.

Sure, the home runs have been okay of late, but I wouldn’t say Escobar has busted out of a slump by any means. If someone wants to pay for this power, let them. His already average Statcast metrics have only gotten worse. Not only has his lack of plate discipline cut into his walk rate, but he’s also striking out way more. Currently, his 28th percentile strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career since Statcast came into the fold. His previous career-low was set back in 2015 at the 47th percentile.

When looking at Escobar this year and of late, there’s not enough to sell me on a bounceback moving forward. Yes, it’s a good lineup to be in with the New York Mets and Escobar can play multiple positions in fantasy baseball. Still, it’s for those exact reasons that you should be looking to trade him if someone wants to pay for his recent power production. Escobar isn’t getting any younger and perhaps this is the slow decline continued as Father Time always wins this battle.

If he’s not going to hit for a good average, which doesn’t seem all that likely, his OBP is going to destroy your fantasy team. You can live with a .225 batting average, but a sub-.300 OBP is far more detrimental to your lineup than a low average. This year, the league’s batting average is .242 and the league’s OBP is .312. Escobar is hitting just .225 on the year and he has a .284 OBP. However, since June 1st, his .218 batting average is far closer to the league average compared to his .234 OBP. Again, if your fantasy baseball leagues value OBP, you cannot keep Escobar on your roster – at least as long as there is a dearth of walks.

If Escobar is available in your fantasy baseball league, he’s not someone I’m sprinting to pick up – unless you’re in a very deep league that values batting average over OBP. He’s not going to net you a major return by any means, but if he continues to hit some home runs over the coming weeks, I would not be hesitant to trade him whatsoever. You can find power relatively easily around the league, especially when you consider that Escobar doesn’t run and his strikeout and walk rates are both trending in the wrong direction. He’s someone that you should look to trade away, because believe it or not, I would not be surprised if his seven home runs, .224 batting average, and .238 OBP over the last 30 games put forth higher-end trade value for Escobar. I may be more down on him than others, but that 31:2 K/BB ratio over the last 30 games isn’t worth a home run every 16.5 at-bats, which is all but surely going to decline with time.

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